One of the joys, and hazards, of being a homeschooling family is the multitude of resources available to us. If I’m not careful, we have stacks of craft supplies littering every surface of the house, glue sticks seem to be multiplying quicker than rabbits, pencils disappear in the blink of an eye, and don’t even get me started on blank paper. (It’s an obsession for us.) Let us not forget the multitude of awesome field trips books, pamphlets, and flyers mom has collected over the years as well. There must be a simple, organized way to keep track of these resources, leaving a clean surface for us to work on and a pleasant environment to live in.
My first step in simplifying the resources available to us is to organize and downsize, if necessary. I put our resources into three main categories: Crafting, Documents, and Books.
Crafting supplies are gone through periodically, with us removing anything old, dried up, or damaged. Then, we organize!
At our local dollar store, we have purchased clear bins in which to place various supplies. We have bins for each of the following:
- adhesives (glue sticks, glue tape, glue dots, double-sided tape, and the like)
- scissors (both regular and pinking sheers)
- school pencils/erasers
- coloring pencils
- stamps (we have four boxes for our ever-growing collection)
- ink pads/stamp crayons
- embossing tools
- modeling/sculpting supplies
- paints (both watercolor and washable paints, including brushes)
- yarn, ribbon, and string
- arithmetic resources (rulers, compasses, protractor, and triangles)
- science resources (magnifying glasses, rock collections, fossil collections, and more)
Slightly larger bins have been purchased to hold decorative paper for card making and scrapbooking projects our children might wish to work on. In addition to these bins, we also have stacks of blank paper, lined paper, and construction paper readily available.
While I’d love to have a learning room dedicated to just this aspect of our lives, we are using the space we have available; which means we have to be creative in how we store our resources. Thankfully, there is a fairly nice sized closet in our family room which fits this purpose. My wonderful husband installed shelves in the closet, and this is where we store our supplies. The bottom shelves hold our curriculum for the year, along with our portfolios. The shelves above hold supplies our children use on a regular basis: paper (of all kinds), writing and coloring instruments, arithmetic supplies, and painting supplies. The shelves at the top contain items I would prefer be out of immediate reach to littler kiddos: ink, stamps, scissors, glue, and more expensive crafting supplies/tools.
The children have access to this cupboard, and the supplies, all day. When we are not doing formal learning, they are encouraged to use the resources made available to them. The only rule is that they clean up the mess they’ve created.
Over the years I have collected quite a selection of field trip ideas, along with pamphlets and catalogs from various companies. Storing each of these would take up a bulk of space and keep my desk cluttered. Simplifying this collection is a must.
In recent years I have slimmed down my field trip pile by filing such information on Pinterest. Here, websites can be saved along with a pertinent note regarding cost and/or location. Gone are the piles and seeing an organized ‘board’ is a thing of beauty.
Company catalogs are also recycled or donated. A bookmark file has been created on my browser for just this purpose. Each company I like to peruse or purchase from is listed under a homeschool folder in my browser, always available and leaving more free space in our home.
Documents pertaining to my children’s learning, tests and the like, are automatically filed in their portfolios, removing this clutter from our learning space. My children’s written projects are usually dated and filed in a box we purchased just for this purpose, with a file folder for each child. 3D projects are photographed, kept for a period of time, and then removed when our children seem to have lost interest in keeping them.
Last, but definitely not least, is our every growing resource of books. This is probably the hardest area to organize. Not because we can’t, but because we always adding to our collection and are constantly running out of room! Some shelves in our home are double-decked.
Art books, animation books, and all things pertaining to Christian studies are to be found in my husband’s study. Most of our children’s literature is to be found in the girls’ room. A vast collection of comics is in my son’s, along with a decent supply of Audubon guides, DK books, and the like. The family room contains the classics.
Thankfully, organizing our learning resources isn’t hard, nor very expensive; merely time-consuming. But, once you get the ball rolling, it’s hard to stop! Simplifying and organizing our resources better helps us understand which supplies need to be refilled or refreshed. We are also teaching our children to be responsible, organized, and good stewards of the resources available. Plus, it’s much easier to access when you know where everything is! No more time wasted trying to find those pesky, disappearing pencils or that field trip pamphlet you just filed.
A simplified life makes things easier, and leaves more room for fun!
“But all things should be done decently and in order.”
I Corinthians 14:40
🔔Time to Chime In: Do you find it hard to throw away your children’s projects? I know we do! What helps you determine when a project needs to be placed in the circulatory bin?